July 22, 2011 — The critical importance of U.S.-China relations in the 21st century will be at the forefront of lively debates and discussions among some of the nation's top business, political and educational leaders during the upcoming Forum on Global Engagement Aug. 21-25, sponsored by the Institute for Shipboard Education.
J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China and current director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, will join a group of notable speakers that includes Jim McNerney, president and CEO of the Boeing Company; Chung Po Yang, co-founder and chairman of the global shipping firm DHL International, and a roster of documentary filmmakers, historians and entrepreneurs.
Roy and his colleagues will address some of the most pressing issues related to the U.S. and China today as part of the four-day Forum on Global Engagement, a unique voyage aboard a sea-going university campus where thought leaders and invited participants together examine international issues.
"The course of a major relationship such as that between the United States and China is not going to be guided solely by the skill or lack thereof of an ambassador, but what an ambassador can do is make a meaningful difference," Roy recently told the New York Times.
The University of Virginia's Miller Center is taking an active role in the forum. Managing director W. Taylor Reveley said U.S.-China relations have long been a subject of study at the Miller Center.
"We are pleased to be working with the Institute for Shipboard Education on this incredible voyage," he said. "Through our scholars, policy reports and videotaped panel discussions, participants will be able to learn more about U.S.-China policy, including how past presidents dealt with China as revealed in White House tape recordings."
Also participating is Brantly Womack, Cumming Memorial Professor of Foreign Affairs in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences. He is an honorary professor at two Chinese universities and author of "China Among Unequals: Asymmetric International Relationships in Asia" (2010) and "China and Vietnam: The Politics of Asymmetry" (2006).
The four-day forum will take place aboard the MV Explorer, the state-of-the-art ship that serves as the floating campus for the Semester at Sea global study-abroad program, of which U.Va. is the academic sponsor. Each year, it circumnavigates the globe with hundreds of college students, exposing them to cultures, histories and politics of countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The forum will also give participants first-hand experience with Semester at Sea and life aboard a floating university, complete with a library, computer center, common hall and nine classrooms.
"Today, no international relationship is more important than U.S.-China relations," said Loren Crabtree, a lifelong China scholar and member of the ISE Board of Trustees. "For nearly 50 years, the institute has engaged thousands of participants in explorations of major global issues, ranging from cultural conflict to environmental degradation. It is only through such dialogue that a safe and profitable journey through sometimes stormy waters can be charted."
During the forum, invited participants will sail along the Atlantic coast from Boston to Montreal, and will have the rare opportunity for one-on-one discussions with these distinguished thought leaders.
Previous forums have hosted such luminaries as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, KIVA co-founder and Semester at Sea alumna Jessica Jackley, and civil rights leader and U.Va. history professor Julian Bond.
Details about the 2011 Forum on Global Engagement's keynote speakers and program are on the Semester at Sea website.